Muirfield to hold second ballot on female members
16 February 2017 • 8:53pm
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is confident that a second vote to invite women to become members will be successful and so allow Muirfield to host more Open Championships. A postal ballot has been sent out to the 600-plus members, with the result expected in around four weeks. On this occasion the Muirfield hierarchy is expecting to gain the two thirds majority required to change the club’s constitution. Last May, the first vote came up two per cent short, causing the R&A, the ruling body which oversees the game’s oldest major, to tell the privately-owned links that it would no longer be considered as a host venue of the Open. With politicians, golfers, media and, more pertinently, the public heaping their derision on Muirfield, the embarrassment was so great that another vote was quickly planned. Sources are adamant that this time, the numbers will be hugely in support of change. A statement issued on behalf of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs the East Lothian course, said: “The postal ballot will be independently scrutinised and the outcome is expected to be announced in mid-March 2017. Voting in favour of the resolution to admit women as members is recommended, unanimously, by the captain, captain nominate and the club committee of the Honourable Company.”
Pressure mounts on Muirfield to allow women members
Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, reacted positively to the news, saying: “If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for the Open in future.” Muirfield has staged the Open 16 times, producing a who’s who of champions, including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, who lifted the Claret Jug there in 2013. Since the Royal & Ancient – the St Andrews club closely linked to the R&A – voted to allow women to become members in 2014, both Royal St George’s and Royal Troon have followed suit.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, provided further information about the state of his client’s faltering health. The 14-time major-winner pulled out of playing in this week’s LA Open because of “ongoing back spasms”. He could not even attend a press conference at Riviera Country Club due to the severity of the pain, despite having travelled to California. “The doctors advised he just stay horizontal,” Steinberg said. “We are not talking about an extended break.”